The unions under the railway will meet on February 17 to decide whether or not to proceed with the proposed indefinite general strike.
A strike ballot conducted during December 20-21 at over 1,000 voting centres, saw majority of the railway men - nearly 90% favoring the strike (Read : Railway secret ballot : Strike likely as majority favor) The ballot w
as conducted as a preliminary step towards an indefinite strike to force the government to accept the federation’s 36 demands. (Read : AIRF : 38 Point Charter of Demands for Strike Ballot
). However the
crucial decision on the general strike that will have major impact on the railways and the nation will be taken at the meeting scheduled at Kota, Rajasthan, said N. Kanniah, general secretary of the Southern Railway Mazdoor Union (SRMU), which is affiliated to the All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF).
The AIRF and the National Federation of Indian Railwaymen are the two parent trade unions representing an estimated 1.3 million railwaymen.
Though the Railway Board had offered to negotiate on Railway-specific demands at meetings held over January 16 and 17 in Delhi, the AIRF leadership has taken the view that some of the key demands such as merger of DA with basic pay and guaranteed pension scheme in place of new pension scheme, could only be resolved by Government of India, Mr. Kanniah said. The union leadership feels that the Railway Ministry needs to facilitate negotiations with the Centre in order to avert the strike, he said.
It may be recalled that during the strike ballot, over 96 per cent of railwaymen in the country voted in favour of an indefinite general strike.
In the six divisions across Southern Railway, 86.8 per cent of railwaymen endorsed the strike plan.